BEDIUZZAMAN AS THE REPRESENTATIVE OF SOCIAL OPPOSITION
Said Nursi (d. 1960) was one of the most important personalities of the final period of the Ottoman Empire and of the Turkish Republic, about whom the various social sectors in Turkey have in no way come to agreement and concerning whom is a wide spectrum of opinion, from the most negative to the most positive. His personality, ideas, and activities are the subject of varying views and opinions because his life has not been studied in one line and because it comprised periods which differed in character according to the political and social conditions. It may also be said that Said Nursi's personality and activities displaying differing characteristics was also closely connected to the age and society in which he lived, which underwent radical political and social changes, and transformations of the greatest importance.
Up to the present, Said Nursi has been the subject of much research and debate, and many studies, from different angles. Various evaluations have been made of him, some in favour, some against; while have been condemnatory, others have elevated him to sainthood, ascribing to him qualities above the ordinary. Having been studied as a scholar of religion, a regenerator of religion, a saint, and a man of action, in this paper Said Nursi will studied as the representative of social opposition, and he will be considered from that point of view.
Three different periods, three different Said Nursi's
Although generally those who study Said Nursi's life make a twofold distinction between the Old Said and the New Said, as he did himself, it may be said that this does not fully reflect the truth and that it would be more accurate to study it in three periods. This distinction is followed for the most part because it was done so by Said Nursi himself. However, the period of his life called that of the 'New Said, from 1925 to 1950, which was the time of single party government, during which he remained totally aloof from political life, was under surveillance and far from his home region, should be distinguished from that following the transition to the multi-party regime. For we may observe significant changes in his conduct and attitudes in these two periods. In this paper, therefore, I find it more appropriate to consider Said Nursi in three different periods: a) before 1925; b) 1925 to 1950; and c) following 1950.
Said Nursi before 1925: an active opponent in political life
Said Nursi used the expression 'the Old Said' for his life before 1925. He was born in 1876 or 1877 in the village of Nurs, which was attached to the township of Isparit in the sub-district of Bitlis called Hizan. On reaching the age of nine, he embarked on his education in the medreses in the surrounding area, and the attitude and behaviour he displayed here marked him out as someone with a different and oppositional personality. During his medrese education, he showed that he could not abide injustice, wrongs, and unfairness, and when he encountered such treatment, he considered it his duty to oppose it. The attitude and conduct he displayed during his terms in the medreses of Tag, Pirmis, and Hizan highlighted his oppositional personality.1
It may be said that Said Nursi's opposition can be studied on two planes; one, as was stated above, the plane of his personality, and the other, the plane of the environment, which was the result of the social and political conditions of the time. Basically the two are complementary, and play a role in his becoming prominent as a representative of opposition and being active in this context. The oppositional character and psychological characteristics that were observed in him during his early education were to be a positive asset when he undertook the duty of representative of social opposition in the chaotic situation the social and political conditions gave rise to in his later life.
Said Nursi was born into a family which produced men of religion. He spent his childhood in the medreses receiving a traditional education, and in his youth became acquainted with political matters due to the tribal disputes. His assuming particular roles in the rivalry between the shaykhs, tribes, and local forces, brought him face to face with political and social problems at what might be called an early age. His combative and oppositional character since his childhood did not allow him to remain long in one place; he continually visited different towns, which gave him the opportunity to see from close by the people and problems of the area. His playing a conciliatory role in inter-tribal disputes may be seen as being in conformity with his character. Said Nursi's proud, unbending, and serious stance is clearly to be seen in his calling Mustafa Pasha, the chief of the Miran tribe, to guidance after having a dream.2
It is related that Said Nursi became involved in political activities in 1892 while he was in Mardin. He encountered there two people who were passing through the town, one of whom was a follower of Jamal al-Din al-Afghani and the other of the Sanusi movement, and he was influenced by them. Because of his political activities, the Mutasarrif of Mardin was compelled to expel him from the town under armed guard, and sent him to Bitlis. In the biography written under Said Nursi's supervision, it says: "his political life began first in Mardin."3
Said Nursi succeeding in being included in the retinue of Ömer Pasha, the Governor of Bitlis, and remaining there, taught the Governor's children. He later left Bitlis for Van on the invitation of the Governor, Hasan Pasha, and entered his service. His working in the retinues of the governors opened up new horizons for him, and he found the opportunity of following current affairs and political matters. In addition to his post as consultant to the Governor, he acted as an intermediary in tribal disputes, which was an important activity for him.4
Said Nursi went to Istanbul for the first time in early 1908 in order to present a petition to the Sultan-Caliph concerning the founding of a university in Van, but the attempt was not successful. It may be asserted even that 'Abd?lhamid II's sending him to a lunatic asylum and displaying no interest in his university project was influential in his becoming more actively involved in political struggle from this date. Moreover, in the speeches he gave in Istanbul three days after the proclamation of the Constitution on 24 July, 1908, and following that in Salonica, the concepts he used and emphases he made greatly resembled those used by the representatives of the opposition to the 'Abdulhamid regime at that time. The concepts like 'freedom,' 'captivity,' 'oppressed nation,' 'progress,' 'civilization,' 'despotism,' 'constitutional government,' 'sovereignty of the nation,' 'fatherland,' 'Shari'a,' 'unity,' and 'constitutionalism' were frequently used by those opposing the government.5 The speech Said Nursi gave in Salonica on the one hand reflects the basic tendencies of the period, and on the other expresses important anxieties. He greets freedom as "the freedom which is in accordance with the Shari'a," considers the new situation to be equivalent to "resurrection after death," and voices his anxieties by making frequent references to the Shari'a. Said Nursi worked together with the leaders of the Young Turks in Salonica, which was one of the most important intellectual centres of the time, but although he used the basic concepts of Young Turk thought in his speech, what he understood by them and wanted to say was different to a large extent. For example, his saying:
"O sons of the fatherland! Do not misinterpret freedom lest it slips from our hands and submerges us by making us quaff our former rotten captivity from another vessel. For freedom is realized and flourishes through conforming to the injunctions and conduct of the Shari'a and good morals..."6
shows clearly that he thought differently. Moreover, in an article published in the Religious Newspaper (No: 70, 26 subat 1324) he wrote:
"... Constitutionalism, which consists of justice, consultation, and power lying in the law. The Illustrious Shari'a was founded thirteen centuries ago, so to go begging to Europe for laws is a great crime towards the religion of Islam and is like praying in the direction of the North,"
showing how differently he thought. Moreover, the new government did not hesitate to arrest him.7
Being actively involved political life in the Second Constitutional period, Said Nursi was first to be seen in the ranks of opposition to 'Abdulhamid II, and he later struggled against the Young Turks. His being among the founders of the society called the Ittihad-i Muhammedî, which was founded shortly before the Thirty-First of March (1909) Incident, on its own may be seen as a manifestation of opposition. For this society and the newspaper Volkan, which was its spokesman, were considered to be among those guilty of the Thirty-First of March events, and the Volkan's owner and chief editor, Dervish Vahdeti, was executed. Although Said Nursi denied that he was one of those guilty of the revolt,8 it is clear he opposed the Young Turk government and resisted it. He told the Young Turks, "You have offended against religion, you have angered God, you have insulted the Shari'a; the consequences will be serious,"9 and acted as spokesman for the Islamic circles opposing those in power, who supported Westernization. The Ittihad-i Muhammedî Society accused the Young Turks of following a policy of suppression based on terrorism and at the same time attacking Islamic institutions.
In the statement he gave in court while being tried for involvement in the Thirity-First of March events, he persistently emphasized "constitutionalism, justice, and the Shari'a," saying, "I applauded constitutionalism more than anyone in the name of the Shari'a." Said Nursi believed that freedom should be restricted by "the conduct of the Shari'a," and saying his predecessors were Jamal al-Din al-Afghani, Muhammad 'Abduh, 'Ali Suavi, Hoja Tahsin, Namik Kemal, and Yavuz Sultan Selim, stated that basically the Thirty-First of March Incident was a movement against the despotism and arbitrary government of the Committee of Union and Progress. It is noteworthy that he concluded his defence with the following:
"Long live Islamic Constitutionalism! Long live the shining Freedom which has learnt a thorough lesson from the instruction of the reality of the Shari'a!"10
Having been acquitted by the court, Said Nursi returned to Van, and there began to teach the tribes. In the work called M?n?zarat (Debates), which, written in question and answer form, was the product of his activities here, he touched on his relations with the Young Turks and members of the CUP "more in order to win the Kurds over to constitutionalism and to break their opposition to the political leaders." Said Nursi described the Young Turks as "devotees of Islam," and said that although he objected to the CUP's violence, he congratulated their activities in eastern Turkey.11
Said Nursi returned to Istanbul before the beginning of the First World War, raised the question of his university project with the new Sultan, Reshad, and obtaining the promise of funds, returned to Van. But although the university's foundations were laid immediately, the enterprise was shelved on the outbreak of war. During the war, Said Nursi was taken prisoner by the Russians, during the defence of Bitlis, was held for two and a half years in a prisoner-of-war camp, and finally escaped in 1917, and returned to his country.
Between 1919 and 1921 Said Nursi was a member of the Dar?'l-Hikmeti'l-Isl?miye, during which time he underwent a number of changes and did much conscience-searching. He then went to Ankara on being invited, and persuaded the Grand National Assembly to set aside 150,000 liras for his university project. In a manifesto he distributed in the Assembly, he admonished the deputies concerning their laxity towards the obligatory prayers, and drew their attention to developments in the question of secularism. It is said the manifesto led to an argument with Mustafa Kemal. In reply to Mustafa Kemal's saying: "We are in need of heroic hojas like you. We called you here in order to benefit from your elevated ideas, but you came here and immediately started writing things about the prayers, and have caused differences amongst us," Said Nursi said: "Pasha! Pasha! After belief, the most elevated truth in Islam are the obligatory prayers. Those who do not perform the prayers are traitors, and the opinions of traitors are to be rejected!"12 In the manifesto, besides praising the successes of the National Forces, he emphasized the importance of the prayers, and criticizing the laxity of some of the deputies in this matter, called on them to perform them. This in fact was nothing other than serious opposition; having gained a general idea of the new government's tendencies, Said Nursi opposed it with this manifesto. But on realizing that he could do nothing in the face of Mustafa Kemal's authority and power,
"... saying nothing can be gained from working with or responding to this person, I abandoned the world and politics and social life, and spent all my time on the way of saving belief,"13
he decided to leave Ankara and return to Van. On his arrival in Van at the beginning of June 1923, a new life, a new period began for him. In his own words, the most prominent characteristic of the period up 1923 and his struggle in it was his active involvement in social and political life and his appearing generally in the pole of opposition. Said Nursi, who had struggled against the 'Abdulhamid regime, worked alongside the CUP, and although he favoured some of their measures, he opposed others. He took part in the war, was taken prisoner, and fought. Following the war, he was appointed to the Dar?'l-Hikmeti'l-Isl?miye, and on the invitation of the Ankara government, went there. He followed the work of the Assembly and opposed the new tendencies. He left Ankara, and on returning to Van, entered a new period of his life. From now on, we are not to see Said Nursi as an active protagonist on the political and social stage.
The New Said: A solitary life of persecution; the period of total opposition to positivism and materialism
On returning to Van from Ankara, Said Nursi went into seclusion in a cave on Mount Erek, and remained there till he was arrested due to the Shaykh Said Revolt and sent into exile in Burdur. His life following this was spent in exile, the courts, and compulsory residence. He was compelled to reside in the village of Barla in Isparta Province until 1934, then in 1935 he was taken to Eskisehir and imprisoned. In 1936 he was taken to Kastamonu and held under surveillance for seven years. In 1943 he was taken to Ankara, and from there sent to Denizli Prison, tried together with his students, and acquitted. Following this he was held in compulsory residence in Emirdag. In 1948 he was again tried, and was sentenced to twenty months' imprisonment. In 1950 he was released following the general amnesty. In 1951 he went to Isparta. In 1952 he was tried in Istanbul and acquitted. Following his acquittal he returned to Emirdag. In early 1953 he returned to Istanbul, and after staying for some time, returned to Emirdag. After a short time he went to Isparta. Following the elections of 1957, he visited various towns, and wherever he went, was met with tremendous enthusiasm. Finally he died when calling in on Urfa on his way to Van.
We may dwell on various factors defining Said Nursi's attitude and conduct in this new period. It may be said that primarily a change had come about in his inner world and other proclivities had come to the fore, and that rather than directing his attention to the outer social and political environment, he looked to the interior, spiritual world. He described his return to Van and going into seclusion as "giving up politics and withdrawing from the world."14 We see from this that he frequently used such concepts and called those who inflicted every sort of ill-treatment on him as "the worldly." In saying: "With all my strength I support total justice, and am against oppression, domination, arbitrary treatment, and despotism,"15 he wanted to say that he did not consider what was done to be right.
Seeing that he was no longer involved in politics and social life and was continuously held under surveillance, can one speak of his opposition? In my opinion, it was because of his oppositional personality, and the idea that he had a potential influence over society that the government perpetually dragged him from court to court, held him under surveillance although he had been acquitted, and compelled him to reside in certain places. Moreover, although Said Nursi was not actually involved in politics and social life in this period, he wrote a work of several thousand pages called the Risale-i Nur, and because of what he said in it, had a place in the pole of opposition. One should therefore search for his oppositional attitude and conduct in this period in what he wrote and advocated.
The period in which the Risale-i Nur was written, which constituted Said Nursi's most important activity, was the single party period, during which religion was excised from politics and the social structure, wrenched out of people's hearts, and Positivism gradually began to be influential. Said Nursi was aware that there was no possibility of involvement in active politics under a totalitarian regime when official assaults on religion and policies against it had reached a peak, and every sort of opposition silenced, and extremely radical reforms had been put into effect. He therefore directed his opposition not at the government leaders, who were also a result of the conditions of the time, but at the positivist-materialist view which formed the philosophical base of their policies. He endeavoured to oppose the policies of the time by defending religion in the Risale-i Nur and exalting religion over all else. By doing this, he both interpreted the feelings of society, and directed and developed them. And, for example, his not changing his dress and using the Arabic script despite the change of alphabet also displayed a general opposition.
It is known by everyone that the things done in the single party period and the policies followed were never identified with by the people and that it was attempted to impose them by force. For this reason, anyone who raised the banner of revolt, either directly or indirectly, was in some respects acting as a spokesman of social opposition.
Said Nursi fiercely attacked materialism and Postivism, which were the ideological infrastructure of the republic, and from the outset was seen as a danger by the authorities. For this reason they held him under continuous surveillance and tried to reduce his influence over society. Said Nursi considered irreligion, which, supported by the government's attitude and policies, gradually gained momentum, to be the greatest danger facing society, and he directed his main opposition towards that. It may be said that his ideas on this subject were similar to those of the broad masses of society. For the policies of the single party period were considered by the people to be irreligion, and they opposed them. The main development that worried Said Nursi was "the fear that the republican government's leaving aside Islam as the foundation stone of social organization and intellectual activity and its permitting 'the assaults of materialism' would lead to the disintegration of Turkish society."16 In his writings, Said Nursi was not concerned with political and social problems, he discussed only the question of belief. In his own words,
"The Risale-i Nur does not discuss the broad sphere of religion which encompasses the laws regulating social life; its chief subject and aim is discussion of the mighty pillars of belief, which are the choicest and most elevated part of religion. Moreover, those I mostly address are firstly my own soul, then the philosophers of Europe."17
He thus felt the need to explain that his ideas addressed not the government and ruling cliques, but the European philosophers, who were the people they had been influenced by. In this way he generalized those he opposed.
However much he said it was the philosophers of Europe that he was addressing, the authorities knew that he opposed both them and their policies. Similarly, we see that in this period the offences of which he was accused in various courts were generally focussed on political and social matters, like exploiting religion for political ends, opposing secularism, practising sufism, opposing the regime, forming a group or community, acting in opposition to the reforms, setting up a covert organization, and publishing material without permission. Always considering the treatment meted out to him by the government to be unjust, Said Nursi opposed it, and defended himself, saying:
"It surely forms an excuse in the eyes of any fair-minded person, if someone who has been exiled unjustly and forced to reside in a remote village, under suveillance, in a place he is a stranger, has been made utterly sick of the world, and has been constantly harassed by being watched, does not know the law."18
Said Nursi vehemently opposed those who accused him of "making religion a tool of politics," and accusing them of "wanting to make politics a tool of irreligion," he tried to say that he was defending the sacred truths of belief against the philosophers of Europe, the atheists, and particularly those who exploited politics for irreligion and in meaning disturbed public order and security. In his defence speeches, he said that he considered the republican government to be "an Islamic government that would give no quarter to the current of irreligion, which causes harm to this country and nation."19 With this, Said Nursi caught the government at its weakest point, for it was not possible for it to openly defend irreligion. So by saying that he was defending religion against irreligion and the philosophers of Europe, he wanted save himself from being the target of the government. It was not easy to oppose someone because they defended belief and opposed irreligion.
It was not a coincidence that Said Nursi dealt only with questions of belief in what he wrote. In his own words,
"The Risale-i Nur does not discuss the broad sphere of religion which encompasses the laws of social life; its chief subject and aim is discussion of the mighty pillars of belief, which are the choicest and most elevated part of religion. Moreover, those I mostly address are firstly my own soul, then the philosophers of Europe."20
The reason he chose to concentrate in the conditions of that time on the question of faith, a more abstract and universal subject which was being seriously shaken by the Positivist-Materialist philosophy of the age, was on the one hand to avoid government repression, and on the other to oppose generally the basic problem of unbelief, which lies at the heart of all negative politics and their application. In any event, by making frequent references to Europe in his defences and in the Risale-i Nur, he was stating that it was the philosophers of Europe that he was addressing. His giving examples from Europe may be seen as his adopting a stand against the ideology of the republic, which was disposed to imitating it. While his making Europe the example in the following may be seen as a reasonable reply to a government tending to the West by someone who opposed it:
"There is no government anywhere in the world of whatever form that would prohibit such a blessed product of its own country and unshakeable source of moral strength, and convict its author! The freedom of monks in Europe shows that no law bothers those who abandon the world and work on their own for the hereafter and belief."21
Said Nursi replied in various of his writings and defences to the accusations of being involved in politics, generally within the framework of being concerned with the questions of belief and the above quotes. As is seen from the following, his main aim was not politics but the questions of belief:
"The Qur'an severely prohibits us from politics. For the Risale-i Nur's function is to serve the truths of belief and the Qur'an against absolute unbelief, which destroys eternal life and transforms even worldly life into a ghastly poison, through decisive and powerful proofs which bring even the most obdurate atheist philosophers to believe."22
Another matter he was accused of was Kurdish nationalism. However, Said Nursi said: "The bonds of nationalism may not be set up in place of the bonds of religion; if they are, there will be no justice; right will disappear."23 And in his defence in Eskisehir Court in 1935 he adopted a very sharp tone when answering the accusation:
"O atheistic tyrants who claim to be Turkists! Is it nationalism because, in your words, of a Kurd like me, to ruin on the most trivial and unimportant of pretexts this many people who may be sources of pride of the Turkish nation? Is it Turkism? Is it patriotism? Come on, I refer it your unfair consciences."24
It should not be forgotten that at the time this was said Turkish nationalism hhad been made a basic principle that dominated all official policies. On investigating what he wrote and did, it is seen how far he was from any nationalist cause, and that he also did not support Turkish nationalism. He opposed the nationalist factor of the official ideology as well.
Furthermore, like many opponents of the regime, opposition to secularism was another thing he was accused of, to which he replied:
"I consider the meaning of secularism to be a government which is impartial; that is, just as in accordance with the principle of freedom of conscience it does not interfere with the irreligious and dissolute, so it does not interfere with the religiously-minded and pious."25
In saying this, he was stating that his understanding of secularism was close to the Western application of it. The following, which he said in his defence in Eskisehir Court, expresses opposition to the regime's understanding of secularism, and its application of it:
"Those who rule the people in this blessed country, who are by nature religious, should surely support as a duty of government the practice of religion and encourage it. And since by principle the secular republic is impartial, and accordingly, does not interfere with the irreligious, certainly it should not interfere with the religious on whatever pretext."26
It is known that in the single party period, the application of secularism, and religious policies in general, were the object of extremely serious reactions by the people, and much repression was carried out in that connection. Said Nursi's opposing policies which had not met with acceptance by the people and had been contrary to their values, was an entirely normal situation for someone in the position of a social leader. He represented social opposition in this question too, and voiced the injustice and misapplications.
In reply to those who accused him of opposing the regime, he said:
"Every government has opponents. On condition they do not infringe public security, no one can be held answerable for an idea, or method, they hold sincerely, in all conscience. This is a legal axiom. ... If relying on this fundamental principle of freedom of religion and conscience and hundreds of Qur'anic verses, I have opposed the corrupt part of civilization, and an absolute despotism that advances under the veil of freedom, and the severe repression of religion and those who practise it under the mask of secularism, can this be counted as an action contrary to the truth? No government at all can consider it a crime to oppose injustice, tyranny, and illegality, on the contrary, opposition is a licit and sincere element of the balance of justice."27
If noted carefully, it is seen that Said Nursi did not conceal that he opposed the government's policies and asserted that this was a natural right, and that no one can be held answerable for any thought that does not disturb public order and security. It is observed clearly that here too he was acting as spokesman and representative of a society which had been suppressed by authoritarian measures.
Said Nursi in the multi-party period: cautious approach to politics
The world system set up after the Second World War affected not only the foreign politics of countries, but their internal political structures as well. Since Turkey's choice in this structure was on the side of the Western bloc, it gave rise to the need to adjust its internal political regime to Western standards. For this reason, after the war, a transition was made from the authoritarian single party regime to the multi-party system, and a series of reforms were carried within that framework. A new period commenced with this development, which may be called a general liberalization, and with the Democrat Party winning the elections of 1950 and coming to power. The political and social developments and conditions following this demonstrated significant differences to the preceding period.
The liberalization subsequent to 1950 and the establishment of a government which showed respect for basic rights and freedoms, all affected Said Nursi's stand, and marked the start of a new period. Even though in this period too Said Nursi was sent from court to court, held under forced residence, unjustly sentenced to terms of imprisonment, and suffered oppression and persecution, relations between him and the ruling elite were relatively closer. In this period, Said Nursi appears as a leader of society who was closely concerned with political developments, who informed the government of his appreciation of some of their positive measures, wrote letters to the government leaders, and met with a number of ministers and deputies. He interpreted the feelings of society when he congratulated the Democrat Party government for its decision to permit the call to prayer to be made in its original Arabic, which was one of its first measures.28 In a letter he wrote to Adnan Menderes, the Prime Minister of the time whom he described as a "champion of Islam," he advised him to strengthen "Islamic brotherhood and basic Islamic nationhood" and to protect the innocent. Saying that "holding official posts is in order to serve," he criticized its having been made a means to "domination and egotism." And explaining that the nationalism adopted up to that time was basically racialism, he recommended that they should give up the error and adopt Islamic nationhood.29 The important point here is that having written no letter etc. of any sort to any government official during the single party period, Said Nursi wrote letters to the Prime Minister under the multi-party system. This should be seen as a sign of positive political participation and as a change in Said Nursi's attitude. Thus, his previous attitude of total opposition relatively softened and changed into approval of a number of measures.
The change in Said Nursi's attitude towards the government observed during this period was closely related to the tendencies of society in general. For the increasing social opposition to the policies of the single party period had come to power in 1950 elections and had taken over the government. The government and opposition had exchanged roles. A significant part of the opposition that Said Nursi represented had come to power and had proposed a number of positive policies and measures. For example, an important development that may be mentioned was his making contact with Adnan Menderes through Dr. Tahsin Tola in connection with the official publishing of the Risale-i Nur, and his receiving a favourable reply from the Prime Minister. But although the Department of Religious Affairs was requested to do this, official publication of the Risale-i Nur was not possible, despite Menderes' wishes.30
Said Nursi, who previously had met with no politicians and statesmen, saw a number during this period, made various recommendations to them, and on his own initiative offered them advice and guidance. In a letter he wrote to his students dated 22nd February 1951, he said that Prime Minister Adnan Menderes and the Home Affairs Minister had sent him a message saying "He should not be anxious or despairing,"31 showing that there must have been close relations between him and the government leaders. Similarly, it is known that in the course of a trip he made in 1958, the Education Minister and Assistant Prime Minister, Tevfik Ileri, met with Said Nursi.32
Said Nursi's stand and activities in this period may be put into three categories: the first was his offering warnings and guidance to the Democrat Party on his own initiative; the second was his pointing out mistakes that were made from time to time; and the third was his commenting on certain events that occurred in Turkey and worldwide, and his offering solutions. For example, his wanting Aya Sophia to be reopened to worship, his attempts to have the Risale-i Nur published by the government, and his recommending the taking of decisive and bold steps in the questions of religion and belief all appear to be important. Also, his sending telegraphs of congratulation to Cel?l Bayar and the government on the coming to power of the Democrat Party meant that he had given up having no relations with the government and his former stand of total opposition. In the piece entitled "To recall an important fact to the Democrats," he wrote: "Our way compelled us not to consider the world and politics as far as was possible, but now it has become necessary and we saw that in the face of the above two awesome currents, the Democrats could assist us, the Nurjus..."33 showing that he considered it a necessity to be concerned with political matters.
Said Nursi, who began to concern himself with politics in cautious fashion, gave permission to his supporters to support the Democrat Party, although he did not take an active stand in the 1950 and 1954 elections. It was understood from his stand and activities after 1950 that he thought it necessary to support the Democrat Party. In the 1957 elections, however, Said Nursi showed openly that he supported the DP. His students too played a more active role than in the previous elections.34 It became clear that when Bediuzzaman began to visit various towns following the elections that he had a large mass of followers in society and that they could easily give direction to developments. Said Nursi's opposing the Democrat government to a very measured extent, but on the whole supporting it and trying to give it direction, and his power steadily increasing, appears to have worried the party in power. It is striking that the police constantly bothered him because he did not wear a sapka (European-style headgear). Furthermore, the anti-government propaganda and incitement of the opposition press and Republican People's Party continued unabated. It is understood that the RPP was upset by Said Nursi's pro-DP stand. He was compelled to break off his visit to Ankara at the beginning of 1960 and leave the city because of the RPP's opposition to it.35 While the treatment he received in Konya, where he went after Ankara, showed that the DP government too had withdrawn support for him and was perturbed by his trips. It is known that after his Konya trip he said: "Adnan Menderes is worth only a tin can in my view now,"36 which illustrates his disappointment and loss of confidence in him. It is understood that the DP government was anxious at Said Nursi's popularity and that it took steps against this by forbidding him to enter Ankara when he wanted to visit it for the last time on 11th January 1960. The government informed Said Nursi that he had to reside in Emirdag and the police prevented him entering Ankara.
It may be said that during the time of the Democrat government, Said Nursi did not oppose the government altogether as he had previously, that he wrote letters to the party leaders, supported their positive measures, permitted his followers to vote for the DP in elections, that he supported this party openly in the 1957 elections and opposed the RPP, and that after these elections the government was disturbed by his gradually increasing power and took steps to control it, but that nevertheless he did not oppose the government as formerly.
When Said Nursi died in the hotel in which he was staying in Urfa on 23th March 1960, the people lost a powerful voice and effective representative of social opposition. It may be said that the most important factors shaping his colourful and active life were the changes in politics and government. Said Nursi dedicated his life to combatting injustice, disbelief, irreligion, and atheism, and today his influence persists in the field of opposition to positivism, materialism, and irreligion.
* Doçent Dr. DAVUD DURSUN
Dr. Davud Dursun was born in Artvin in 1953, where he attended primary school. In 1977 he graduated from Rize Lycée, and in 1981 from the Department of Public Relations, in the School of Journalism and Public Relations in the Economics Faculty of Istanbul University, as the leading student of his year. He was awarded a Ph.D. in 1987 by the Dept. of Political History of the Social Sciences Institute of the same university with a thesis entitled 'The Ottoman Political-Administrative System and Religious Organization.' Focussing on political history, the sociology of politics and religion, and the Middle East in his post-doctoral studies, in 1992 he was appointed Doçent in the sociology of religion. His work at present is centred on religion and politics in Turkey and the Middle East and the political history of the Islamic world in the modern period. Since 1994 he has taught in the Dept. of Public Administration in the Faculty of Economic and Administrative Sciences in Sakarya University. He in addition teaches in various other universities and is a research fellow in Uludag University. He has published a number of books and articles, including some translated works, and is a consultant for a number of encylopaedias, as well as contributing articles.
1. Badilli, Abd?lkadir, Bedi?zzaman Said Nursî: Mufassal Tarihçe-i Hayati, Istanbul, Timas Yayinlari 1990, i, 57-65; Bedi?zzaman Said Nursî, Tarihçe-i Hayati (Tarihçe), Istanbul, Envar Nesriyat 1993, 30 ff.
2. Badilli, i, 87-90; Tarihçe, 40-2; Mardin, Serif, Bedi?zzaman Said Nursî Olayi: Modern T?rkiye'de Din ve Toplumsal Degisim, Istanbul, Iletisim Yayinlari 1994, 119-123.
3. Tarihçe, 43.
4. Tarihçe, 40-51; Bedi?zzaman Said Nursî Olayi, 122-8.
5. See, Tarihçe, 55-7.
6. Badilli, i, 167.
7. See, Bedi?zzaman Said Nursî Olayi, 135-6.
8. Bedi?zzaman Said Nursî Olayi, 138.
9. Tarihçe, 54.
10. Tarihçe, 78.
11. Kara, 1994, 68-9.
12. Badilli, i, 439.
13. Nursî, Bedi?zzaman Said, Sualar, 333, as in Badilli, i, 456.
14. Tarihçe, 177.
15. Tarihçe, 184.
16. Bedi?zzaman Said Nursî Olayi, 61.
17. Tarihçe, 231.
18. Tarihçe, 244.
19. Tarihçe, 251.
20. Tarihçe, 231.
21. Tarihçe, 223-4.
22. Tarihçe, 557.
23. Nursî, Bedi?zzaman Said, Mektûbat, 57.
24. Tarihçe, 230.
25. Tarihçe, 409.
26. Tarihçe, 219.
27. Isik, Ihsan, Bedi?zzaman Said Nursî ve Nurculuk, Istanbul, ?nlem Yayinlari 1994, 224-5.
28. Tarihçe, 616.
29. Tarihçe, 618-22.
30. Badilli, iii, 1488 ff.
31. Badilli, iii, 1504.
32. Badilli, iii, 1508.
33. Badilli, iii, 1515.
34. Badilli, iii, 1572-7.
35. Badilli, iii, 1613 ff.
36. Badilli, iii, 1626.